"Protectiveness has become a way of life in our culture--and an argument can be made that much of it is, on balance, a good thing. No one wants his or her child playing with a toy coated in harmful substances or mistreated by an unqualified childcare worker. But it should not surprise us that our culture's obsession with safety has shaped two generations of Boomer and Buster parents who are deeply risk-averse when it comes to our kids.
When I read these lines I immediately felt guilty, but it wasn't personal guilt. After all, my child is only 3 years old and at 2 years old we were conquering sliding boards and swinging high and even crossing the street to walk the side walk on the other side. To be fair, my wife and I use carseats (yes plural) and we are "protective" of our little girl, but somewhere between the age of my daughter and the age of my college students - WHAT HAPPENS? My friend Jeff Jones from the Univeristy of Memphis Baptist Collegiate Ministries just Tweeted a reminder to his students to turn in their mission forms:
DEADLINE AT MIDNIGHT tonight to apply for summer missions at http://sendtnmissions.org . Don't waste your summer on video games #realmodernwarfare
I loved this Tweet because I realized in this moment that I am not alone! Are we raising a bunch of video game junkies, I mean, it is safe in the den with a controller in your hand, but I wonder what Christ would think about that life style in which we spend hours on our entertainment and a few minutes on everything else? How does Jesus' appeal to "take up the cross and follow me" find a footing this this world of protectiveness? What about the encouragement to his disciples that "those who lose their life for my sake will find it?" We must wonder if those who fill our churches are there because they like the safe environment the church provides...and for some reason that makes me cringe!
But then there are the other kids - chomping at the bit to get free - because the world is full of adventure and fun and the church is too busy buying into this culture of protection. This may be a bold statement, but one of the biggest hurdles facing the church right now is our desire to keep everyone safe and happy. I'll explore the happiness side of this equation soon in a post, but we must add adventure to our experience of Christianity.
When my child was almost a year old, I boarded a plane to Liberia with a group of college students who had talked me into going on a mission trip to an orphanage called Safe Home. We were told upon arrival that we were the first group of Americans to travel outside of Monrovia since the civil war. (If you don't know about the Liberian civil war - click here to read more.) I was scared. I was scared because I was the adult male leader who, if something happened, would probably happen to me. I was scared to leave my family at home. I was scared of malaria and weird animals and that I would run out of sunscreen. But what I received, unbelievable! I have friends in Africa, and they have been such a blessing to me. I learned what hospitality truly meant by being served by Alfred every day. And I went back, and I went back again. Because we are expecting a baby this summer, I cannot go this year, but next year it is on!
Here's the point: We must believe that God is worth the risks we take for Him, and we must allow God to prove that He can be trusted to provide in all circumstances (even the ones that go terribly wrong).
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.